Visiting rights group, John’s Campaign, has launched legal action against the government over its guidance which bans elderly people from taking trips outside their care homes.
The campaign group’s solicitors, Leigh Day, have sent a letter to the government saying the restrictions are “discriminatory”.
John’s Campaign co-founder, Nicci Gerrard, said: “It is extraordinary, unkind and entirely unacceptable that government guidance should seek to prevent anyone over the age of 64 leaving their care home for visits out. Care homes are not prisons, and people living in them should have the same rights as everyone else in society.
“What’s more, to make them self-isolate for 14 days if they do leave the care home is to cruelly continue the enforce separation from those they love that has blighted too many lives in the past year. John’s Campaign considers that a blanket ban on visits out is grossly discriminatory, harmful and wrong, and it is a matter of urgency that it is changed.”
Independent Care Group, Mike Padgham, backed the campaign, saying: “It is hard to object to a party of over-65s going out in a minibus, for example, to enjoy a change of scenery and some fresh air, provided they were careful. We would like to see the government give greater guidance on this going forward.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We know just how crucial visits are in supporting the health and wellbeing of residents. Our current guidance provides a range of opportunities for visitors to meet and spend time with their loved ones in a care home under carefully designed conditions to keep everyone safe.
“Residents over 65 can make visits outside of care homes in exceptional circumstances and all decisions in relation to visiting should be made on the basis of a risk assessment centred around the individual. This is made clear in our guidance.
“As we move along the roadmap, we are looking to open up more opportunities for visiting both into and outside of care homes – wherever this can be done safely and is supported by data.”